RUNAWAY by Heather Graham


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 This big-time bodice ripper from Graham (One Wore Blue; And One Wore Gray, not reviewed) is the first in a five-part saga about Florida. With her dedicated libido, Graham lights up the sweet savage swamps of the middle peninsula circa the early 19th century. She handles all the compulsory elements well; it's a great trick to give readers exactly what they want and still present something fresh and exciting. Her hero, Jarrett McKenzie, the grandson of an Irish lord, wins Tara Brent in a New Orleans poker game. He wants her at first sight, when he spies her across the crowded room of a waterfront brothel. Virginal Tara is blond and perfect; Jarrett is dark and perfect (``He was as natural and assured as a beast in the wild. The moonlight fell upon the sleek bulge of his forearm and shoulder for just a moment. Oh, God!''). To hide Tara from villains who have accused her of murder, Jarrett undresses her (he is astoundingly good with early American underwear) and flings her naked into his bed. He can see her in the dark because he was raised by Indians (he also is called White Tiger). Impressed, he marries her and takes his reluctant bride to his wild but well- appointed plantation near Tampa, where she will never have to cook a meal (another reason this is women's fiction), just as the Seminole chief, Osceola, declares war on the American government. There is a plot where somehow Tara and Jarrett work out their problematic relationship and the reader learns about the Seminoles, including Jarrett's muscular half-brother, Indian chief James McKenzie, also called Running Bear. But it's ultimately beside the point. Jarrett is a bit pushy for the '90s: He has an obsidian-dark glare and no sense of boundaries. Or maybe he's just so big that his boundaries overlap everyone else's. Even so, in Graham's hands, phallic Florida rises. We pant for more.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-31264-4
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1994


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